What factors persuade someone to recommend his or her employer to a job seeker? Salary, though a very important factor for most employees, does not drive most job changes. In fact, in an extensive survey of over 10,000 LinkedIn members from around the world, only 34% of the respondents gave “I was unsatisfied with the compensation/benefits” as their top reason for leaving their jobs, whereas 59% offered “stronger career path/more opportunity” as their primary motivation for taking a new job.
Because salary is no longer the main draw for job seekers, it’s time for companies to shift their focus to what’s really attracting high-level hires: company culture and career development opportunities. In order to do that, though, an organization must have a strong sense of its employer brand—and that isn’t something that can be pulled out of thin air. An employer brand must be based on hard data about what appeals to the target audience. And because a company isn’t part of that audience, it can have a hard time knowing what potential candidates are looking for.
For that reason, many organizations rely on outside research (such as Universum’s annual “World’s Most Attractive Employers” report) to provide them with in-depth insight into what graduates and job seekers want from employers. Simply reading those studies isn’t enough, though. The employers that are most attractive to candidates use such data to shape their employer branding and focus on two areas in particular.
Tip: The first step toward developing a great EVP is to identify the organization’s brand essence—the one quality it most wants to be associated with as an employer.
Companies that succeed in pulling in the best candidates each have a strong and clearly-defined employer value proposition (EVP), a unique set of offerings, associations, and values that can positively influence target candidates and employees. Because 76% of job seekers “want details on what makes the company an attractive place to work,” a strong EVP gives candidates a good reason to come work for a company. A strong EVP also yields long-term benefits: “Companies that implement a strong employee value proposition are twice as likely to outperform the competition financially and five times more likely to have employees that are highly engaged in the office.”
Although culture is a key component of an EVP, many companies do not exhibit a strong work culture. Those organizations may be relying too heavily on salary and benefits (two other aspects of an EVP) to attract candidates and neglecting other important factors. Because culture ties directly into the employer brand, the lack of a strong and dynamic company culture will only hurt a company—especially when it comes to employee recommendations and referrals, which play a large role in employer brand development.
Tip: Showcase career-development programs to potential candidates by including those programs in job descriptions and highlighting them on social media sites.
The most successful companies know that investing in their employees is one of the best ways to strengthen their employer brands. Career development programs are gaining popularity, (especially in the United States, where spending on corporate training now tops $70 billion). By investing in such programs for their employees, organizations communicate an interest in keeping those workers around for the long term.
Focusing on career development will definitely pay off. According to one recent survey, 87% of millennials consider “professional or career growth and development opportunities” to be important elements of a job. When they’re looking through job boards and doing research about companies, the presence—or lack—of such opportunities can make the difference between one organization and its competitor.
As it becomes harder for companies to ignore their employer brands, more and more of them are increasing their investments in that area. But where should they focus? Each company may want to allocate resources differently, depending on the types of candidates it wants to reach. For example, social media may be most effective with new graduates, whereas a traditional career website may appeal more to older generations. For that reason, companies need to do their research when developing their employer brands and make sure that any strategic investments are backed up by strong data.
This article originally appeared in Advanced Resources HR Insights Magazine